Liverpool have missed out on signing a Danish superstar once before in the past when the great Michael Laudrup opted to join Lazio 30 years ago rather than move to Anfield, and the Reds are in danger of history repeating itself once again this summer unless they act fast and snap up Ajax’s Christian Eriksen.
According to the Daily Mirror, a source close to the coveted Denmark international claimed that the Merseysiders have been sending “mixed messages” to the player of late, and that, “one minute there was a concrete interest and Liverpool were willing to pay the fee, but now they are taking their time.”
The 21-year-old’s contract at the Amsterdam ArenA only runs until June 30 2014, and Eriksen has already made it clear that he will not be putting pen to paper on a new deal with the Eredivisie champions, telling Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf (h/t The Express):
“I didn't hear anything from my agent but, if something shows up, I feel like trying.”
However, the worry for Liverpool fans is that they are most certainly not the only club currently interested in the highly talented playmaker, with the same article from The Express reporting interest from Tottenham Hotspur, as well as fellow Premier League giants Manchester City, according to Metro, and UEFA Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund, according to The Guardian all reportedly keen on landing the player when the transfer window reopens for business at the start of next month.
In fact, Eriksen has already made it quite clear that he would be partial to a transfer to the Ruhr Valley next season, especially if Jurgen Klopp’s side are crowned champions of Europe at Wembley on Saturday.
Eriksen told De Telegraaf (h/t The Guardian):
Dortmund are a club where I would like to play. I think I would be a good fit with the football there. Dortmund play nice, attacking football.
The Bundesliga has never really been my preferred choice and a few years ago I would not even have considered it, but now I do. The competition is getting stronger and it is no coincidence the two Champions League finalists are German clubs.
I know there has been contact between the two clubs, and both Ajax and Dortmund have already talked to my agent. I will consider all the clubs and quietly make a decision. I want clarity when preparing for the new season, that's the best thing – for everyone.
And yet when you actually delve deeper into the background behind Eriksen’s mooted move to Anfield this summer, the more and more it seems like a marriage made in heaven, especially when one takes into account his reported transfer fee of just £15 million, according to the Mirror.
Firstly, the player has already turned down mega-rich City due to understandable concerns that he will not get regular first-team football at Eastlands next season, as reported in this article by Metro, a factor that compatriot and former Liverpool star Jan Molby also feels will play a part in whoever Eriksen does eventually decide to join.
“What I would say is that Christian needs to play regularly. Maybe that would count in Liverpool’s favour slightly, that they can offer him, you would think, regular first-team football,” Molby told the Liverpool Echo.
Perhaps just as important is that Eriksen has also seen the strides that his former captain at Ajax, Luis Suarez, has made under the tutelage of Reds manager Brendan Rodgers since deciding to swap Amsterdam for Anfield in January 2011.
However, it is believed that the in-demand attacking midfield player has actually been most impressed by the longevity of the Merseyside club’s pursuit of him, with Liverpool having sent scouts out to the ArenA to watch Eriksen in action for the entirety of last season, according to the Daily Mail.
And yet now we hear through sources close to the player himself that Rodgers and Co. have been dragging their heals at the most crucial point of the entire negotiating process.
Now, this would not be the first time since he became Liverpool manager last June that the Northern Irishman has taken his time in deciding whether or not to sign a player, with the Daily Mail reporting that Rodgers opted against bringing Daniel Sturridge to Anfield from Stamford Bridge last summer to allow him more time to investigate the striker’s character traits to ascertain whether he would be a good fit at the club or not.
That delay actually ended up costing the Reds dearly, as they were forced to survive with just Suarez in attack for the first half of the previous campaign, before Rodgers did eventually correct his initial error by poaching the England international in the January transfer window.
One factor that is apparently also concerning Rodgers is where exactly Eriksen will fit into the team next season, especially since the arrival of Brazil international Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan at the start of the year and whether he will have too many impish, ball-playing attacking schemers all operating in the top end of the pitch?
However, if Rodgers is having those thoughts, then he should get rid of them, and quickly. If he really is going to propel the Reds back into the top four of the Premier League next season, and with it a long-awaited return to the UEFA Champions League, then he will need players of the creative quality of Eriksen to help him achieve that tough-looking aim.
In fact, Rodgers need only have watched the youngster’s eye-catching displays for Ajax in the group stage of last season’s Champions League, when Eriksen more than held his own when faced with the likes of Real Madrid, City and Dortmund, and none more so than his man-of-the-match performance against the then-Premier League champions in Amsterdam, to have been convinced about the Dane’s star quality.
“He’s a classy player. An old-fashioned number 10 in many ways. He has two great feet, he sees passes and has added goals to his game in recent weeks. He has all of the tools in his locker to be a real top class player,” is Molby’s assessment of his compatriot in the same aforementioned Liverpool Echo report.
“I’d love to see him at Liverpool, and he is exactly the type of player Liverpool should be looking at, but there will be some serious competition I am sure.”
And that glowing tribute was also shared by England midfield player Frank Lampard, who said this of Eriksen following his man-of-the-match showing against the Three Lions in Copenhagen in February 2011 according to Tribal Football:
“I didn’t know much about Eriksen before the game, but Fabio Capello was very aware of him. He is going to be a top player.”
However, perhaps the final word should be left to the man who has been nurturing the youngster’s talents for the past two years in the Netherlands, Ajax technical director Marc Overmars, whose view on Eriksen should surely be final confirmation, if it were needed, that this is a player Liverpool must sign, and quickly:
“The day he leaves, he will be ready to play for the very best. He is a player that even the biggest clubs in the world could do with having in their squad.”